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Riverside Health System prepares for a potential surge

It's been smooth sailing so far at the hospital in Newport News, but officials know things can change quickly.

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — There are roughly 60 people who have tested positive for COVID-19 on the Peninsula, with 23 in Newport News alone. Administrators at the area's largest hospital feel ready for what may lie ahead.

It doesn't matter why a person might seek treatment at Riverside, everyone gets checked for respiratory trouble.

"Upon arrival, you're going to be screened for a respiratory illness and if you have that, you're going to go one way, and you don't have that, you're going to go another way. We're able to separate patients that are presenting depending on what your complaint is," said Mark Rath, the Executive Director of Accreditation and Shared Services for Riverside Health System.

Riverside has treated several COVID-19 patients but would not disclose an exact number. Like every hospital system in America, Riverside is preparing for a potential surge by identifying additional bed space and keeping up with orders for ventilators and other critical supplies.

"Unfortunately down the road, nobody has the crystal ball to exactly know which model is going to prevail as far as numbers of potential hospitalizations, how many need that critical care and ultimately how many need ventilators but we feel we're well-positioned for what may lay ahead."

This week, Riverside will conduct drills to practice their response in case they receive many COVID-19 patients at one time.

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